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The Interpreter
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Day 737: February 24, 2016

Publication: Ukraine Liveblogs
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The Interpreter
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Russian Trilateral Group Negotiator Gryzlov Offers 2 New Agreements for Donbass - As Ceasefire Doesn't Hold

Boris Gryzlov, a member of the Russian Security Council and the chief negotiator for Russia in the Trilateral Group regarding implementation of the Minsk agreement, announced that he had two new agreements to ease the conflict in the Donbass to be signed next week, Interfax reported.

The first concerns the delineation of the zone where de-mining has not yet occurred, and the second provides for a ban on training target practice in a 15-km zone from the line of contact.

The proposals need to be taken with a grain of salt on a day that the Ukrainian military said was the worst shelling this year.

Ukrainian soldiers have been actively engaged in attempting to de-mine the areas under their control, suffering deaths and maiming of their own service personnel as they address this danger, which has cost numerous civilians their life and limbs. But the issue isn't so much marking the area not yet de-mined, as creating the secure conditions in which sappers could work.

The second proposal is useful in addressing a chronic problem for the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission, which in practically every report notes that they have heard gunfire or shell fire at some location, but when they ask the self-proclaimed Donetsk or Lugansk People's Republics to explain the shooting, they say it is for "training purposes." This will enable at least in theory an end to that excuse around the line of contact.

Gryzlov commented that often such training fire "provoked fire from the other side, especially at night." That may be true, but Russian-backed forces also make no secret of their non-training live fire on Ukrainian positions.

Both the proposals only accentuate the lack of compliance with the latest ceasefire, as the war escalates.

-- Catherine A. Fitzpatrick 

The Interpreter
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Poroshenko Warns Of Possibility Of Return To Full-Scale War As Ukraine Reports Worst Shelling This Year

President Petro Poroshenko warned today that the risk of a return to full-scale war remains as Ukraine reported the worst day of fighting so far this year.

Poroshenko was speaking at a graduation ceremony at the Ivan Cherniakhovskiy National Defence University in Kiev. 

Interfax-Ukraine reports:

"The prospect of the resumption of full-scale hostilities in the East, due to the systematic violation by the Russian aggressor of the obligations taken in Minsk is clearly visible on our radars

The reason for the reduced training period, and the early graduation, is that the military threat coming from the East remains topical in the long-term and short-term prospect, even in case of the most optimistic scenario in Donbas, and a long ceasefire developing into the political settlement and a lasting peace."

This morning the Ukrainian military ATO Press Centre reported 84 attacks over the previous 24 hours, 69 of which took place in the Donetsk area.

According to the report, 120 and 82 mm mortars were used to bombard Ukrainian positions to the north of both Donetsk and Gorlovka, near Peski, Pervomayskoye, Opytnoye, Avdeyevka, Mayorsk and Zaytsevo.

Positions in Krasnogorovka, west of Donetsk, came under fire from BMP infantry fighting vehicles and grenade launchers.

Colonel Oleksandr Motuzyanyk, a military spokesman for the Presidential Administration, announced at noon today that two Ukrainian soldiers had been wounded, near Krasnogorovka and the other near the Putilovka mine, north of Donetsk. 

The pro-separatist Donetsk News Agency (DAN) reports meanwhile that Ukrainian troops shelled the northern outskirts of both Donetsk and Gorlovka with both 120 and 82 mm mortars, as well as BMPs and grenade launchers.

This morning, DAN claims, Ukrainian forces resumed shelling Donetsk Airport with 82 mm mortars.

In the south of the region, Ukrainian military spokesman Aleksandr Kindsfater told that the situation was deteriorating.

Kindsfater reports that Ukrainian positions near Talakovka, Chermalyk and Vodyanoye were shelled with both 120 and 82 mm mortars.

Talakovka lies only seven kilometres outside the city of Mariupol.


Alarmingly, despite the high numbers today, the Ukrainian military may well be under-reporting attacks.

The OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM) recorded a startling total of 794 ceasefire violations in the Donetsk region on February 22:

The SMM observed a total of 794 ceasefire violations in Donetsk region, considerably higher than on previous days.[1] Of note, positioned in city-centre Donetsk between 16:00 and 07:00hrs on 21/22 February, the SMM recorded 312 undetermined explosions 7-10km to the west and north-west. On 22 February, positioned at the “DPR”-controlled Donetsk central railway station (6km north-west of Donetsk city centre) between 08:40 and 15:05hrs[2], the SMM heard 36 undetermined explosions and two bursts of small-arms fire 3-8km to the north, north-north-east, north-west and north-north-west.

Positioned in “DPR”-controlled Yasynuvata (16km north-east of Donetsk) between 08:40 and 13:45hrs, the SMM heard 158 explosions (140 impacts and 18 blasts) caused by, among other weapons, mortars, automatic-grenade launchers, and rocket-propelled grenade launchers, plus an additional six undetermined explosions, and at least 155 bursts of small-arms and heavy-machine-gun fire and fire from infantry fighting vehicles, from locations 0.5-7km south-west, west-south-west and north-north-west of its position.

Positioned in government-controlled Svitlodarsk (57km north-east of Donetsk) between 17:14 and 22:30hrs on 21 February, the SMM heard 17 undetermined explosions and 13 bursts of heavy-machine-gun fire 8-12km to the south-west and south-east.

Positioned in “DPR”-controlled Horlivka (39km north-east of Donetsk) between 19:10 and 20:36hrs on 21 February, the SMM heard 21 undetermined explosions, numerous heavy-machine-gun bursts and sporadic small-arms fire 10-15km to the north and west.